What are Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) Antennas?

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- everything RF

Feb 16, 2021

Flexible Printed Circuit Board Antennas, or FCB Antennas are flexible, low profile, highly reliable and economical antennas that are widely used in the wireless industry. A FCB antenna usually consists of polyimide flexible PCB, with a patterned conductive (mostly copper) material for the desired antenna topology. It can be used to develop various types of antennas including monopoles, dipoles and printed F antennas. The antennas usually have a coaxial cable through which they can be connected to the required circuit.

Flexible PCB antennas usually are very thin and have a peelable back strip which when pealed of can stuck onto a surface with a pre-applied adhesive like a sticker.

Key Features of Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) Antennas

  • FPC Antennas can be bent so that they can be embedded inside a small device like an IoT module where circuit board space is at a premium and a surface mount antenna can not be placed.
  • FPC antennas can be placed vertically, horizontally or co-planar to the host PCB without any major impact on performance. FPC antennas usually perform consistently when flat, on a curve or even when bent to a certain degree. This makes them ideal for devices where an SMD antenna simply will not fit on the host PCB with the required ground plane.
  • The cable length of FPC antennas can be customized making them easy to connect to a module.
  • Traditionally, the size of a PCB along with the accessible ground plane directly influences the performance of an SMD antenna. This does not apply to FPC antennas, as the flexible circuit board is customized for the antenna placed upon it. This ensures space-saving, higher levels of performance, and fewer integration steps.
  • FPC antennas offer similar performance when compared to external omni-directional antennas like an omni-directional radiation pattern and high levels of efficiency. But it requires less ground space to achieve these levels of performance. Hence, these antennas optimize the circuit board for their function.
  • FPC antennas are cheaper than externally mounted antennas. High levels of performance can be achieved without the expense of deploying an external antenna.
  • FPC antennas can be fabricated using standard PCB manufacturing techniques making them highly reliable and repeatable antennas.

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